Preparing for Fall Vegetable Gardening
We live in South Florida, and the heat and humidity in July and August are awful. However I love my vegetable garden, so after picking all the veggies in June I wanted to find ways to stay busy in the summer. I have found that at least certain herbs thrive despite the heat, including basil, dill, rosemary, cilantro and chives. I also found July to be the perfect time to start preparing soil for August. We suggest organic soil, like Miracle Gro Organic Choice, which contains a blend of compost, peat moss and natural fertilizer. This keeps moisture better than just plain soil. Have organic mulch available to put around your vegetables. This also helps lock the moisture in, and keeps weeds from growing.
In July you can also plan out where you are going to plant your veggies, how many of each and its location. When planning location consider the amount of sun the plant needs, as well as how they grow. One year my tall tomato vines covered the sun too much for some of my other vegetables to grow – not good. Last but not least, plant your companion flowers or herbs if you are using any. Many plants naturally repel bugs so we do recommend you use them. For example, planting mint near cabbage and tomato deters cabbage moths, ants, and aphids. Basil is great to plant next to tomatoes, peppers and asparagus. It is said to repel flies, mosquitos and thrips, as well as improving the flavor of the vegetables it is planted next to. Dill is great with lettuce, onions and cucumbers, but can hurt carrots or tomato plants, as it can attract horn worms that will eat your tomatoes.
Then around the 3rd week of August, even though it is still very hot, I can start planting my “fall” crops. Bush, lima and pole beans can be planted late August through April. Sweet corn, banana peppers, as well as habanero, jalapeno and cubanell peppers can all be planted August through March as well. In September you can plant cucumbers. By October, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, lettuce, onions, spinach, strawberries and tomatoes. When can you expect your first harvest? Well your beans will be ready to pick in late October. Your peppers, corn and cucumbers in mid to late November, and then the fun continues through the Spring.
If you wanted squash or pumpkin for the fall, you are too late this time around. Believe it or not, you should plant a pumpkin in February to have in time for Halloween or March for Thanksgiving. Best varieties to grow are crookneck, zucchini, big max, calabaza and funny face. Sweet potatoes should be planted February through June.